A golden thread delicately descends, bestowing the unmistakable flavor of a place. It’s extra virgin olive oil, an indispensable product of Italian culinary tradition, taking on different nuances from region to region, sometimes even from one mile to the next. During the autumn months, olive farmers gather their harvest, the culmination of a year’s work. Each region has its procedures, and each mill has its technique for harvesting the olives and processing the product.
In these months, the experience of tasting extra virgin olive oil offered by many producers begins precisely with the harvesting of olives amidst the green of their groves,
leading to the processing in the mill, and discovering what will be the distinctive characteristics of the tasting of the produced oil.
The thousand qualities of the olive, a thousand flavors in a small fruit
The olive tree (Olea europaea) has been cultivated in the Mediterranean basin for millennia and has a rich and ancient history. It’s believed that the olive tree was first cultivated in what is now the Mediterranean region, known for its ideal climate and terrain suitable for olive cultivation. The use of olives and olive oil has deep roots in the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, where they have long been considered a symbol of peace, fertility, and prosperity.
The use of olives and olive oil has deep roots in the ancient “cultivar” each with unique characteristics. A “cultivar” is an olive plant that has been selected, cultivated, and propagated through vegetative methods like the transplanting of cuttings or grafting. These cultivars are the result of years of selection and adaptation to achieve specific desired traits, such as taste, aroma, size, shape, and disease resistance.
Today, understanding the different varieties of olives and their sensory profiles is crucial for olive oil producers and enthusiasts. Italy, in particular, is renowned for its rich diversity of olive cultivars and the production of high-quality olive oils, cherished both nationally and internationally.
The varieties of olives and Italian olive oil continue to be the subject of studies, research, and innovations aimed at preserving tradition and improving oil quality while ensuring sustainability and the conservation of environmental resources.
The Ancient Dance of the Olive Harvest, An Open-Air Opera
Imagine a natural stage, a master of ceremonies, and a coordinated dance involving farmers, families, and friends. The atmosphere is charged with excitement, and the energy is palpable. It’s olive harvest time in Italy, an eagerly anticipated event each year.
The dance begins at dawn, as the sun paints the sky with shades of red and gold. Farmers gather in their olive groves, equipped with combs, nets, and baskets. With skill and care, they begin to comb the trees, carefully detaching the ripe olives, being careful not to damage the branches.
Nets are spread out under the trees, ready to collect the precious fruit. It’s a moment of cooperation and harmony, where the experienced hands of women and men move with dexterity and precision. The air is filled with the scent of olives and the sound of rustling leaves.
Olive harvesting is an art that requires time and patience. The olive trees, with their winding, silvery branches, become the stage for this performance. The olives, in various shades of green, purple, and black, represent the notes of this symphony.
Farmers know that the right moment for harvesting is crucial for producing high-quality oil. Each olive picked at the right time will contribute to creating an oil with an unparalleled aroma and flavor.
After hours of work, the olive harvest ends with a celebration. Families gather to share food prepared with love and tired smiles, celebrating the olive tree and its generosity. The harvested olives are taken to the mill, where the next phase of oil production begins. But for now, there’s the joy of sharing and anticipation, knowing that the fruit of their labor will become an oil that will bring taste and tradition to many tables.
3 olive harvesting and extra virgin olive oil tasting experiences in three different regions of Italy
Olive Harvest and Oil Tasting in Alcamo, Sicily
Sicilian oil meets the taste of those who love robust and aromatic flavors, given by the nuances of fruitiness ranging from medium to intense. Those who enjoy adding a strong flavor to the simplest salad, or dishes based on vegetables, or fish not only of the Sicilian tradition, can find the right choice in Sicilian oil. Sicilian extra virgin olive oil can also be in the variant from olives that have been pitted before processing, to give more importance to the peculiarities of the fruit.
Alcamo’s oil is often mentioned among the Sicilian excellences with an ancient tradition rooted in the territory. It has a fruity and intense taste, with herbaceous notes and a slight spiciness. The aroma may vary depending on the variety of olives used and the production process. The color is an intense green typical of extra virgin oils obtained from freshly picked and well-processed olives. With acidity less than 1%, its flavor is particularly suited for salads and dressing cold dishes, but also for low and medium temperature cooking.
In a small farm nestled in generous and lush nature, Vincenzo Bambina and his wife Finella use traditional and sustainable methods. With them, it’s possible to experience the olive harvest in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, perfect to be lived with the whole family to learn about this precious local Sicilian cultivation.
Olive Harvesting Experience in Abruzzo
The olive harvest begins in the morning, spending the day in the olive grove, with lunch and dinner accompanied by the unmistakable fragrance and flavor of oil; it’s a series of moments and emotions that can only be explained by experiencing them. A family that owns an oil mill in San Vito Chietino and harvests olives from many local producers shares this experience with those who wish to discover the precious product of Abruzzo oil.
Appreciated for its quality and its perfectly recognizable taste, the tasting of extra virgin olive oil from Abruzzo is a reflection of the environmental conditions, the soil, and the varieties of olives cultivated in the region. Abruzzo olive oil often has a fruity and fresh taste, with notes of ripe olives, aromatic herbs, apple, and almond. It may have a slightly spicy and bitter aftertaste that adds complexity to the flavor. It generally has an intense green color with golden reflections and generally low acidity, less than 1%. Among the varieties of olives used in the production of Abruzzo oil are Leccino, Dritta, Toccolana, and Gentile di Chieti, among others. It may have a slightly spicy and bitter aftertaste that adds complexity to the flavor. It generally has an intense green color with golden reflections and generally low acidity, less than 1%. Among the varieties of olives used in the production of Abruzzo oil are Leccino, Dritta, Toccolana, and Gentile di Chieti, among others.
In San Gimignano for a Tuscan Oli experience
In San Gimignano, there are many experiences of local culture and gastronomy to be had. In San Gimignano, there are many experiences of local culture and gastronomy to be had. For those who want to delve into the life and production of a small local mill, we recommend the experience of discovery and tasting of San Gimignano’s extra virgin olive oil at the Organic Farm Podere dei Monti. After a brief introduction to their philosophy, you can discover the production focused on the use of a low-impact oxidative system that respects the integrity and traceability of the cultivar.
The tasting of extra virgin olive oil is a sensory journey to discover the “liquid gold” of San Gimignano.
San Gimignano’s olive oil, like that of Tuscany in general, is appreciated for its authentic taste, quality, and significance in culinary art. Local olive growers devote care and passion to the production of the oil, preserving traditions and ensuring the continuity of an excellent product. It’s often produced with the traditional method of cold pressing, which preserves the organoleptic qualities of the oil and is typical of Tuscan production. Among the most common varieties of olives used to produce Tuscan oil are Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, and Pendolino, which give the final product a characteristic taste.